I’m starting to doubt another one of the infallible MMO doctrines: Class Balancing. While I think balance is a worthy goal, sometimes I think we get a little bit too caught up in the idea of fairness. Eric at Elder Game has the right of it I think:
“what’s important is that your game is fun, and you need to make that the primary goal of everything you do. If you have to nerf something, nerf the particular scenario, not the underlying system. Over-nerfing is the easy road, but not the road to fun.”
This is particularly true in Blizzard’s case where they are trying to class balance two completely different games in Arena and PvE Raiding. It’s hard enough trying to maintain some type of balance so that all classes are desirable in a Raid, let alone that they are “equal” in some kind of PvP scenario. In the Arena game by contrast, you have a bunch of classes that are rocks to your scissors. So while paper is just fine the way it is, you definitely think that rocks should be nerfed.
So of course, when YOU get the nerf because you are someone else’s rock than that just seems, well, damn unfair. And you know what, it IS unfair. You didn’t do anything to deserve that nerf. You are just having fun playing your character. The worst nerfs are the sweeping ones that impact some guy who wasn’t even overpowered in the first place because some tweaked out PvP god posted his 10K crit on YouTube.
Then you have the nerfs that happen because someone feels their PvE role is threatened. My favorite one here is the Feral Druid nerfs that followed the 2.0 patch. You had bunches and bunches of warriors in angst over their inability to “multi-tank” more than a handful of mobs. The “solution” was to make Druids a bit less useful at tanking and end-game itemization seemed to follow this trend in favor of Warriors.
The problem with nerfs is that it is fun for no one and is particularly UN-fun to the guy getting the nerf. Isn’t it ironic that in a game like WoW that every single class has been nerfed several times? It seems to me that if they had just left things alone and addressed specific scenarios or buffed up other classes to compete, that they would have achieved a form of balance without causing heartbreak via the nerfs.
I also can’t help but feel that all this “balancing” comes at the cost of them not spending more time working on actual NEW content. After all, if you are constantly fixing that which can never be completely fixed, then aren’t you just running in place? It seems to me that gets you nowhere near your actual destination.
The REAL irony to me is that the player community is not just some static ball but a living breathing thing that ADAPTS to the current environment. If there is an unbalance, people get used to it and worked around or with the imbalance. I’m not saying this is perfect, but what I am saying is that not every problem needs to be addressed immediately and with a nerf stick. In fact, quite the contrary, I would like to see imbalances addressed more often with POSITIVE additions.
The Druid story is a good one because a very significant portion of the Warrior population was very vocal about saying: Don’t Nerf Druids, Buff Warriors. The problem wasn’t that Druids were Overpowered in the eyes of Warriors, but that they were Underpowered. Nerfing the Druids didn’t actually solve the underlying issue and it eventually took positive changes to the Warrior talents to get the effect that Warriors wanted.